BREAKING NEWS: LeBron James is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James has decided to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers.

LeBron James has decided to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

In what seems like a WWE plot, LeBron James announced in a first-person letter on SI.com that he plans to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. The terms of his contract have yet to be released. In the statement, James explains his decision:

“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball, I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now…I’m coming home.The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. I’ve talked to some of them…Nothing will ever change what we accomplished.”

Heat fans at least have two championships to remember their brief period of the "Big Three" (l-r) Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh.

Heat fans at least have two championships to remember their brief period of the “Big Three” (l-r) Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh.

James has informed the Miami Heat and his former teammates (and friends) Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade of his choice. This decision will have lasting effects throughout the NBA and has brought even more excitement to the Cleveland area.–OnPointPress.net–

WWE women promote positive, athletic, television images

Total Divas gives personal insight to WWE Divas like Naomi (r) who got married on the show to current WWE superstar Jimmy Uso.

Total Divas gives personal insight to WWE Divas like Naomi (r) who got married on the show to current WWE superstar Jimmy Uso.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As many reality television franchises continue their run, the women associated with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are demonstrating a wide range of positive images.  From the top of the organization to the less known “Divas,” the WWE has worked diligently to reshape the images it displays of the women in the company. Some fans may think of the WWE Divas as merely attractive women, but the WWE is making progress in demonstrating that the women associated with the WWE brand are good owners, managers, announcers, ring performers, and entertainers.

The Chief Brand Officer of the WWE is Stephanie McMahon, who is front and center in reshaping the image of women in the WWE.

The Chief Brand Officer of the WWE is Stephanie McMahon, who is front and center in reshaping the image of women in the WWE.

The WWE has come a long way in the portrayal of the women in the company. While there have been a number of women who gained notoriety because of expertise in the ring, the WWE had a long period of ‘eye candy’ for their mostly male demographic. While there has been an expectation that the women of the WWE would bring a different type of  charm to the show, there were periods where it seemed borderline exploitive.

Previous WWE Divas like “Sunny,” Terri Runnels, “Sable,” Candace Michelle, and Torrie Wilson had roles that showcased their bodies more than anything else. The trade-off for these women was that it allowed them to make additional money outside of the company through modeling. The WWE would have eight different Divas pose for Playboy Magazine, including Sable, Michelle, and Wilson.

Trish Stratus (l) and Lita (r) were excellent in-ring performers that also accentuated their bodies during their time in WWE. Both have been elected into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Trish Stratus (l) and Lita (r) were excellent in-ring performers that also accentuated their bodies during their time in WWE. Both have been elected into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Most of those women worked for the WWE during the “Attitude Era” (1997- 2003)during which the company was geared to more mature audiences. As that era ended, the company refocused its attention on audiences that were not targets of the Attitude Era: children and women. The WWE was able to bridge the gap with attractive women who were also able to perform well in the ring. However, there was still an expectation at times that the women would participate in matches that would have them in very revealing gear. The biggest stars of this period, Trish Stratus and Lita are now WWE Hall of Famers, demonstrating that they made a lasting impact in the company.

Some of the members of the show Total Divas (l - r); Naomi, Cameron, Natalya, Brie Bella, Nikki  Bella

Some of the members of the show Total Divas (l – r); Naomi, Cameron, Natalya, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella

Currently, the WWE Divas are all expected to be competent in-ring competitors. The WWE continues to employ attractive, fit women, but they are also incredibly athletic and charismatic as well. Additionally, their presence is seen in more areas than just the ring. The show Total Divas  gives WWE fans an opportunity to see what goes on in their personal lives.

Currently, the WWE is giving Tamina Snuka (l) and Divas Champion Paige (r) a chance perform at highest level including at last Sunday's Extreme Rules pay-per-view event.

Currently, the WWE is giving Tamina Snuka (l) and Divas Champion Paige (r) a chance perform at highest level including at last Sunday’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view event.

Divas like Cameron, Naomi, Nikki and Brie Bella, and Natalya are able to translate their popularity on Total Divas to further their WWE careers. Other “Divas” like former Divas Champion AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, Layla, Alicia Fox and current Divas Champion Paige have opportunities on WWE shows regularly.

Smackdown General Manager Vickie Guerrero (r) has been in a position of power within the WWE for years as was AJ Lee (l) for a brief period.

Smackdown General Manager Vickie Guerrero (r) has been in a position of power within the WWE for years as was AJ Lee (l) for a brief period.

The strongest female representation comes from the current Chief Brand Officer and on-screen “Authority” member, Stephanie McMahon. McMahon, daughter of WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, has evolved as on-screen character, taking on a leadership role and showing a woman in power in a sport dominated by men. McMahon teams with her husband Paul Levesque, also known as triple H, to show a woman in an authoritative position on WWE shows. Additionally, the WWE employs Vickie Guerrero, widow of former WWE superstar Eddie Guerrero, as general manager on Friday Night Smackdown. Guerrero has held her position of power within the company for several years.

The WWE has made diversity a  point of emphasis as well. Alicia Fox (l) and Layla (r) have worked  for Stephanie McMahon (c) and the WWE for the last several years.

The WWE has made diversity a point of emphasis as well. Alicia Fox (l) and Layla (r) have worked for Stephanie McMahon (c) and the WWE for the last several years.

The WWE has changed the way it chooses to portray the women in the  company by maintaining  a high standard for female talent while  showing value for much more than just their physical attributes. The WWE is more visible than it has ever been, with its shows viewed in over 100 countries and now streaming online 24 hours a day with the WWE Network. It seems like the WWE has chosen to take the responsibility to showcase the many different talents that women in the firm possess.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @0penWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Is boxing prepared for what the post-Mayweather era holds?

Floyd Mayweather Jr., at the podium, speaks at a press conference about his upcoming fight with Marcos Maidana (r).

Floyd Mayweather Jr., at the podium, speaks at a press conference about his upcoming fight with Marcos Maidana (r).

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Saturday, May 3, Floyd “Money” Mayweather will attempt to unify the welterweight championship belts as he faces fellow champion Marcos Maidana. The undefeated Mayweather is the biggest pay-per-view draw by a wide margin, allowing him to earn upwards of $73 million in just two fights last year. There is no denying Mayweather is the best that boxing has to offer at this point.

However, Mayweather is 37 and has already participated in forty-five professional fights. There will come a time in the near future when Mayweather is unable to draw the fans to the television and to the ring to watch his fights. The ‘dangling carrot’ of a fight with the second most popular boxer, Manny Pacquiao, will eventually lose its effect on fans.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (r) is boxing's pound-for-pound king and biggest draw. Manny Pacquiao (l) is the fighter fans most want to challenge Mayweather.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (r) is boxing’s pound-for-pound king and biggest draw. Manny Pacquiao (l) is the fighter fans most want to challenge Mayweather.

Floyd Mayweather Sr., the boxer’s father and trainer, may have added fuel to that proposed fight by recently when he said:

“Manny and Floyd? That would be the easiest fight Floyd could make…This [Maidana] fight right here will be harder than Manny, trust me.”

As clamor for Mayweather versus Pacquiao wanes, there are different options for fans of combat sports.

A survey completed by the company Scarborough and published in the Sports Business Journal shows interest in combat sports as of 2013.

A survey completed by the company Scarborough and published in the Sports Business Journal shows interest in combat sports as of 2013.

Two of UFC's biggest stars are decorated champions,  Jon "Bones" Jones (l) and Ronda Rousey (r).
Two of UFC’s biggest stars are decorated champions, Jon “Bones” Jones (l) and Ronda Rousey (r).

Mixed martial arts has risen drastically in popularity over the last twenty years. In particular, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has established a product that has targeted the very demographics that boxing used to dominate. UFC president, Dana White, is excited to extol the gains the UFC has made on boxing in viewership among males.

“When I was at ESPN all day, all the guys there were talking about our numbers. That’s all that matters,” she said.

White is counting on the rising popularity of champions Jon “Bones” Jones and Ronda Rousey to continue the growth of the UFC. Meanwhile, the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) launched a 24-hour streaming network in February, in preparation for the marquee event, WrestleMania 30 that took place early April.

The WWE continues to give their fans more ways to enjoy their product with the advent of the WWE Network. Featured Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (l) and John Cena (r).

The WWE continues to give their fans more ways to enjoy their product with the advent of the WWE Network. Featured Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (l) and John Cena (r).

The WWE continues to reinvent itself as a brand by marketing to multiple demographics through cross promotions. The firm routinely has WWE superstars featured on television and in movies, while producing original programming that gives extra recognition to their talent. The WWE Divas are providing an added dimension to the company as their reality show Total Divas allows fans to connect even more with their favorite WWE cast member.

The bottom line for boxing is that the other combat sports are continuing to add layers of interest to grow their sport. Meanwhile, boxing appears to be doing more to harm its sport than help it. The multiple governing bodies, uncooperative promoters, and incompetent judges that have plagued boxing over the past 20 years have placed the sport in a precarious situation: loss of interest from the fan base. The sport of boxing needs to make some major changes before Mayweather retires and takes major fan interest in boxing into retirement with him.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

2013 WWE Divas feature diversity, skills, achievements

The cast of the WWE Total Divas reality show (l-r) Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie, Natalya, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, and JoJo Offerman

The cast of the WWE “Total Divas” reality show (l-r) Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie, Natalya, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, and JoJo Offerman

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The last pay-per-view event of the year for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) coincided with the season finale of the first year show “Total Divas,” a reality show featuring several of the female talent working at WWE. As millions watched the personal developments of the divas, the “Divas Champion *AJ Lee,” defended her title at the year ending WWE pay-per-view event “Tables, Ladder, and Chairs,” capping an exhilarating year for WWE’s top diva, while expanding the fan base for all the divas.

Current WWE Divas champion AJ Lee.

Current WWE Divas champion AJ Lee.

Lee has had a phenomenal year and has become a fan favorite while earning and retaining the WWE Divas Championship. She was also the general manager of WWE Raw for a short period this year. She has demonstrated the screen presence and charisma the WWE looks for in its talent to help with cross-branding pursuits. Other WWE Divas like *Kaitlyn and *Layla have been WWE Divas Champions over the past couple of years. However, Lee has stood out with her ability to connect with fans on the microphone as well as in the ring. The ability to connect with the crowd is always the toughest challenge for WWE superstars and Lee has become the best WWE diva in that category this year.

(L-R) Layla, Kaitlyn, and Alicia Fox are former WWE Divas Champions on the current WWE roster.

(L-R) Layla, Kaitlyn, and Alicia Fox are former WWE Divas Champions on the current WWE roster.

The WWE Divas were featured prominently on television this year too. The *Bella twins (Brie and Nikki), joined Naomi and Cameron (the Funkadactyls)  on the “Steve Harvey Show.” The twins also appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show. The twins led the WWE Divas in appearances in non-WWE shows, which has helped to increase the popularity of all the women of the WWE.

“Wresting is a great workout,” The twins and Funkadactyls said as they demonstrated various exercises and dance moves on the Steve Harvey Show, delighting the mostly female audience. “Oh this is good,” Harvey said, clapping his hands in appreciation while the divas took over the stage.

Stacy Keibler (l) and Torrie Wilson while working at WWE.

Stacy Keibler (l) and Torrie Wilson while working at WWE.

The shift to in-ring performance as an emphasis for the divas has resulted in fewer women resembling the former WWE divas like *Sable, Stacy Keibler, and Torrie Wilson who were known more for their beauty than their wrestling ability. While there have always been WWE divas who were known for their wrestling ability, the WWE fans gravitated to the most attractive WWE women, regardless of wrestling ability.  Many of those former WWE divas still maintain public interest , which speaks to their appeal and the wide reach of the WWE audience.

Trish Stratus (l) and Mickie James (r) were popular WWE Divas and Women's Champions in WWE in the past.

Trish Stratus (l) and Mickie James (r) were popular WWE Divas and Women’s Champions in WWE in the past.

The current crop of divas has earmarks of other former WWE divas like *Trish Stratus, *Lita, and *Mickie James, who were lauded for both their beauty and wrestling ability. These woman have gained a different type of exposure than the previous generation of divas as many of the current women at WWE are mainly in-ring performers. The women of the WWE have been able to combine their trademark beauty with the rough and tumble ability necessary to excel in and out of the ring.

The “Total Divas” show has given the *Bella twins, *Natalya, *JoJo Offerman, *Eva Marie, and *Naomi and *Cameron (the Funkadactyls) more exposure on the crowded WWE roster. The “Total Divas” show also included frequent appearances by two of the most popular WWE superstars, *Daniel Bryan, and Jon Cena.

Nikki Bella (l) and Brie Bella (r) have made numerous television appearances this year.

Nikki Bella (l) and Brie Bella (r) have made numerous television appearances this year.

The WWE continues to find a way to promote its many products across multiple platforms and with the divas showcasing their diversity and skills, the potential for greater achievements will continue to grow. .–OnPointPress.net–

* Denotes WWE stage name

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.

WWE, perfecting the art of cross-branding

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson graces the cover of the latest WWE 2K14 video game to be released  Oct. 29, 2013.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson graces the cover of the latest WWE 2K14 video game to be released Oct. 29, 2013.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The WWE has become a leader in the concept of cross-branding, a tactic that has helped them become a billion dollar industry. The idea of promoting two or more brands at one time was not invented by the WWE but the company has perfected the approach.

Through different generations, the WWE has had superstars like Hulk Hogan (l) and John Cena (r) crossover to the big screen.

Through different generations, the WWE has had superstars like Hulk Hogan (l) and John Cena (r) crossover to the big screen.

 

In sports, cross-branding is second nature as commercials offer networks the opportunity to advertise other network shows during sporting events. The challenge for sports trying to increase viewership is to be interesting enough to attract brands that can help grow both industries.

 

Most sports market their biggest attractions in commercials and cameo appearances on television and in movies. Many sports also have their athletes featured in video games and fantasy sports leagues. The WWE became a promotion partner with other stars by inviting them to be guest hosts on WWE’s flagship show “Monday Night Raw”. Donald Trump, former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal, actor and “Wolverine” star Hugh Jackman, and former “Price Is Right” host Bob Barker led a long line of superstars from various areas to guest host in the WWE over the years.

Stone Cold Steve Austin has transitioned from being the face of the WWE to a star in movies and television.

Stone Cold Steve Austin has transitioned from being the face of the WWE to a star in movies and television.

The WWE has been exceptional at cross-branding because it has had a long list of superstars appear in movies that have earned hundreds of millions of dollars across the globe. Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and John Cena are among the long list of WWE superstars to headline major motion pictures. The WWE has taken the next step in cross-branding with the growth of the WWE movie production company. WWE Studios has collaborated with other major movie production companies to produce films in 2013 that featured stars like Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard, and Halle Berry.

Halle Berry stars in The Call, a WWE Studios movie released in theaters in March, 2013 and on DVD in July, 2013.

Halle Berry stars in The Call, a WWE Studios movie released in theaters in March, 2013 and on DVD in July, 2013.

The WWE model is not easy to replicate but there are a few methods that sports struggling to increase their popularity can learn from. The number one skill a major WWE superstar learns is how to sell themselves. That connection between the stars and the fans is necessary to grow interest in those stars outside of their perspective sports. The WWE shows that cross-branding their industry with other major genres like video games, television, and movies, ensures that their superstars attract more fans to the WWE brand.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant.